The Last Christmas Ball – Lily Seabrooke

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
A sweet second chance romance about family meddling, strange Christmas traditions and chosen families.

This is the second book in the series after The Christmas Ball. Alice and Lisette are from two close families who have a Christmas ball every 10 years to ‘pair off’ everyone in the traditional debutante ball kind of manner, something I find hard to comprehend and certainly have no experience of, so I’m fascinated by the concept and the group of characters this brings together.

I’ve liked Seabrooke’s work in the past and I enjoyed her writing again. The setting means things can feel a little repetitive at times, especially if you read both books in quick succession, but I think Seabrooke does a good job of not making it too repetitive. This second book is more character focussed and diverse as she draws out the strangeness of the arrangement and how to modern the families.

I’m not really in the Christmas mood, I’m more in the it’s been a long 18 months and I just want to sleep mood, so at first I wanted to put this book down because I couldn’t connect with the Christmas theme, however I’m glad I persevered as I liked both of these characters in the first instalment and was happy to find out the resolution to their story.

There are a lot of secondary characters, all with their own issues and reasons for wanting things to either stay stuck in their ways or for things to move in a new direction. I was impressed that I was never lost as to who anyone was, even with two large families involved.

It’s a little on the long side, so you’ll need to make time for this book, but the storyline is worth it in the end. I’d also recommend reading the first in the series The Christmas Ball as whilst this could be read as a standalone, I don’t think it would be particularly enjoyable, as all of the characters appear in the first instalment and it sets up the romance of Lisette and Alice falling in love and all of the family dynamics that are so important in this narrative.

Also, whilst this is set at Christmastime, I don’t think you have to read it at Christmas, should you be considering this at a different time of year. There are some inherently Christmas elements of it, but at its heart it’s really about chosen families and love.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Comet’s First Christmas – Delilah Night

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This was a really fun sweet Christmas novella. I enjoyed the both the setting and the storyline and particularly enjoyed the balance between the intrigue, mystery and romance.

Claudia is a reindeer from the Pole, she’s a prospect for the sleigh team. At the last minute she gets called up, to fulfil the role of Comet.

Jillian is an elf, she’s based in New York as a personal assistant, looking after the North East America part of the sleigh route.

When Claudia is drafted into the team she’s assigned to Jillian’s part of the world. A big part of what makes this such a fun sweet read is her exploration of the human things and her experiences with New York at Christmastime. I really liked that Night manages to describe these experiences so you feel like you’ve shared them with Claudia, but doesn’t go overboard on the descriptors.

There’s some mystery and intrigue in the storyline, as someone is trying to ruin Christmas by creating non-believers, leaving the reindeer having to track down the culprits. This works in keeping the storyline interesting, it would have been a very different narrative were it to just discuss the getting reading for delivering presents.

This was an enjoyable read with a refreshing take on a Christmas romance.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.